A/N:Okay everyone- here is the beginning of the long awaited companion piece to Consequences. I hope it was worth the wait!

Prelude to a Party

Spanish truly was the bane of my existence now. It was my only class without Bella. There was nothing to distract me from the trivial minds of the teens surrounding me, brainwashed by the liberal media that constantly fed them a deranged version of the news that they passed off as truth. Not to mention how sexualized everything was, from music to advertisements. These kids rarely thought about something besides sex. I couldn't distract myself in here except to listen to others' thoughts about Bella which was a blessing and a curse. The minds that typically focused on her were the last minds I wanted any insight into. If I looked through Mike Newton's mind, I would be subjected to his almost constant sexual fantasies staring Bella, Jessica, or more often, both. It was more than my turn-of-the-century sensibilities could handle for long periods, even though I had been subjected to the thoughts of others for almost a hundred years. The boy was inventive, I could give him that. He also made me want to pound his face in, which would take no effort at all. I could look through Jessica's mind, but all I would find there was jealousy and scheming. Jessica really wasn't her friend, but she kept Bella close for prestige and to keep Mike from going after his girlfriend's friend. The only mind I could stand being in really was Angela's, who focused on Bella some of the time however her thoughts were increasingly occupied with other things like college and her boyfriend, Ben. I tried to keep from focusing on my siblings, out of respect to them. They had to put up with my 'gift' from the moment they joined our ever-growing family. Alice got the brunt of it though, since her visions were something I couldn't help but focus on. I knew it was important to understand what was going on but sometimes she would attempt to hide them for my own good. Lately she had been keeping me from her thoughts, which concerned me. I hoped to catch her off guard here at school. It rarely happened since she would see it in time to keep from slipping up, but occasionally something would slip past her control. Right now she was translating obnoxious pop songs into other languages, obviously for my benefit.

"Mr. Cullen, would you like to get your head out of the clouds and tell us how to correctly translate this sentence?" my Spanish teacher practically barked out, hoping to catch me off guard for once.

Logically I knew it would be better to get an answer wrong once in a while. It would make us seem less strange, but as I picked the answer she wanted from her head, knowing that it wasn't exactly correct, since I spoke Spanish better than she did, I was unable to force myself to give the wrong answer, or even her version of the right one.

I spoke up with a flawless accent and said, "La definición de locura es hacer la misma cosa repetidamente y esperar un resultado diferente."

She grinned, thinking that she had finally caught a flawless Cullen making a mistake and said, "Mr. Cullen- you are not quite correct. The correct translation would be La definición de locura es hacer lo mismo varias veces y conseguir un resultado diferente."

I smiled sweetly and said, "But doesn't conseguir mean getting, while you requested expecting, which is esperar?"

Her mouth dropped open as she reached for her Spanish-English dictionary. Her eyes narrowed as she realized that she had in fact made the mistake. She vacillated between sending me to the office for no real reason except that I had made her look foolish, and admitting that she had made a mistake to a group of high school students who would eat her alive for it.

She finally decided for former and said, "Mr. Cullen you can discuss your rude behavior with the principal- go to the office now."

I gave a look of shock and confusion, grabbed my things and went to Mr. Greene's office. She had to know from other experiences with my siblings and I that sending us to the office like this was going to just come back and make her look bad, but apparently she wasn't thinking clearly. Too late she remembered a similar incident that our math teacher, Mr. Varner, had with Alice and knew she was going to get raked over the coals for it. I almost felt bad for her and just ditched the rest of Spanish but I knew it would raise more red flags if I didn't go to the office.

The moment the secretary looked up, startled partially because she hadn't heard me enter the room, partially because members of my family were rarely sent to the office, and partially because she was attracted to me more than my other siblings. She took a few seconds to remind herself that I was too young, just as she did every time I walked into the office.

"Mr. Cullen, what do you need?" she asked, giving me a motherly smile.

I responded, "I got sent down from Spanish for giving a right answer- I think."

I could tell that our Principal, Mr. Greene was listening to the conversation from his office, knowing he was going to have to reprimand another teacher because of another "perfect" Cullen. I almost felt bad for him. Almost.

He thought for a few moments until he suddenly realized that if he didn't officially recognize the situation, he could allow it to slip under the rug. He opened up his work email and typed out an excuse to Ms. Cope about having a personal emergency to attend to and that he would be unavailable to deal with student issues unless it was a major infraction. He instructed her to send students to their next class when the period ended. Then he signed it and sent it. Exactly three minutes and 23 seconds later, Ms. Cope opened it and began to read. She chuckled to herself at a sound level she thought I wouldn't hear and then shook her head, knowing exactly what he was doing. Apparently he was easy to predict after working with him for the past eight years.

Ms. Cope had no desire for me to hang around for almost a half hour and so she said, "Mr. Cullen, I'm going to give you a pass to the library. Go read or something. Just don't go back to Spanish. I expect to see your name on the attendance for PE though, young man."

I nodded, smiled and grabbed the offered pass. I now had almost a half hour to go do whatever I wanted to. I knew that she really didn't expect me to head over the library. She just wanted me out of her hair. She was reading a novel and had just reached the best part when I had walked in to the office. She wanted to get back to her reading. I decided to go find the empty choir room, knowing that I could use the piano there in peace. In that moment, it finally struck me. I knew what I was going to do for Bella's birthday. I was going to make a CD for her with all my songs on it, along with some of her favorite classical pieces.

My phone buzzed in my pocket and I had a pretty good idea I knew who it would be. I pulled it from my pocket and saw that I had a new text from Alice. I opened it to read, Glad you finally figured that one out. One less thing to keep from you :)

I considered responding but I knew that she would see what I was going to say anyway and so I walked to my car, deciding to ditch PE after all. Alice would let Bella know that I wouldn't be in PE today. I needed to get a good start on my present for Bella and I knew that Esme would only be too willing to help me.

Being able to complete a recording session in one take was definitely one of the few advantages of being a member of the undead. The recording only took a test run to adjust levels and then going through each song once, flawlessly. Having Esme at the controls was a help as well. She was able to anticipate what I would need once she grew comfortable simply from hearing me play for decades. The only promise I had to make was to give her a copy of the recording. More than anyone else in our strange little family, Esme loved to hear me play. I agreed gladly, knowing it would make her happy. She could, of course, play these all herself but she felt that it lacked something when she played them. She felt like it was missing something that only I gave each piece. It was one of the many ways she was convinced that we still had souls. The small hopeful part of me began to wonder but the larger pessimistic part of my personality quickly shot it down, knowing that someone who had taken so many lives couldn't possibly be worthy of an eternity.

All I hoped now was that Bella would love her present. I wanted to give her diamonds and other expensive things but I knew that she wouldn't want them. It was frustrating, but in a way it was endearing. It was nice to know that my wealth didn't impress her at all. I knew she would never be that shallow. Suddenly, I couldn't wait to see her. I said goodbye to Esme and rushed off towards her house so I could meet her the moment Alice dropped her off from school.

The moment I lifted the window up, I could smell her. I was now almost easily able to dismiss the scent of her blood as food and associate the scent with love. I got myself through the window with almost no effort and then grabbed her copy of Dracula from the shelf and began to read. I secretly loved this book simply because of how wrong the humans actually had it. It was sad and amusing all at once. My family loved to mock my amusement though and so I never read it around them. I was thankful in some ways that it was completely inaccurate. If it had been accurate, the Volturi would have kept it from ever seeing the light of day.

I heard her truck long before she neared the house. It really was a death trap on wheels. I desperately wanted to get her something newer-safer-but I knew that she loved the hunk of junk too much to part with it. The instant it died though, I was going to replace it with something better. She deserved so much more. I knew that it was the best Charlie could do for her and that was part of the attachment she felt towards the rusted rolling tin can but I wondered if she would notice if I sabotaged it.

The moment the engine died in the driveway, I could hear Bella talking to herself, "-stupid future-seeing pixie and lame ditching-me-s-ssparkly boyfriend. Only I would know that I was going to hurt Jessica and not be able to stop myself. I hate PE. I really really hate PE. Is it everyone's goal to permanently embarrass the clumsy girl?"

That moment she flung open the door, her eyes went wide. She had no idea I had been there. I heard her heart racing in her chest out of shock and surprise. She had not been expecting me. I laughed and met her at the door, wrapping my arms around her.

She scowled at me and I choked back a laugh before I said, "Problems in PE, love?"

She glared at me and went to smack my arm. I grabbed her hand, not wanting her to hurt herself. She realized what she had been about to do to herself and she covered her mouth with her hand. I wrapped my arms around her tightly and held her close.

I murmured quietly into her ear, "Love, I bet I can make you forget all of this."

I backed up to look into her eyes, she glared back at me and said, "Don't you dare try to dazzle me right now."

I grinned like the Cheshire cat and quickly captured her lips with mine. She tried to fight it for a moment before her teenage hormones overrode her annoyance. She started to kiss me back, clinging to me like she would never let go. I grinned into the kiss and reluctantly backed off. She was completely distracted from her annoyance. She tried to pull herself back together but she snuggled against me in defeat seconds later. I wrapped my arms around her and laid down on the bed, with her on top of me. She grinned down at me, trying to be annoyed and failing miserably.

Then she said, "You do know that is just not fair, right?"

I smiled and said, "That's what you do to me all the time, love."

I meant every word of it. She completely disarmed me. Everything about her was so different than what I expected. She usually did the last thing I thought she would. She claimed that I had the ability to dazzle her but the opposite was true. It was a condition I hoped never to recover from.

I tangled my hand in her hair and brought her lips down to mine, loving the warmth and softness against mine, hardly noticing the burn in my throat. She was able to distract me even from my thirst for her enticing blood.

"Bella, we should probably get going on homework. We don't want Charlie to come home and find us like this," I said ruefully.

If I had anything to say about it, I would keep her as close to me as possible all the time. She nodded, kissed me one more time and then slid off of me, almost falling to the floor before I realized that she didn't have her feet underneath her. I picked her up instead and carried her downstairs. I plopped her down on the kitchen counter, stole another kiss, and then sat in one of the chairs at the table.

The moment I heard Charlie's thoughts, I reluctantly dislodged myself from the chair, kissed Bella goodbye and told her that I would see her after dinner. She nodded sadly, reached to pull me against her, and kissed me before saying goodbye. I walked from the house and into the woods just in time for Charlie to not see me as he pulled up to the house. Tonight was a family only night, according to Charlie, so I wouldn't be allowed to see Bella. The fact that I was going to sneak into her room after he went to bed was something he just didn't need to know.

The moment I reached the house, I heard our little mini-general barking orders to the rest of the family as they set up for birthday party the pixie devil was planning for Bella. My whole family was excited about the event. It was the first real birthday any of had celebrated since Emmett was first turned. I knew that she wouldn't want to be the center of attention but I couldn't disappoint my family's chance to have a moment to forget what we really were. I also needed to face the fact that tomorrow my Bella would achieve something I never would- growing another year older.


The chapters roughly align with the chapters of Consequences once they are numbered.

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